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Govt. committed to quality health care

Apr 7, 2014, 9:12 AM

The Gambia government remains committed to making quality health services available to all citizens regardless of location. Curative services will continue to have attention, but preventive services will continue to be emphasized.

This was said by President Yahya Jammeh, in his statement to open the National Assembly in Banjul for the 2014 legislative year.

“We urge Gambians to live a healthy lifestyle, with exercise and healthy eating habits”, and by “eating what we grow and growing what we eat”.According to the head of state, to ensue “universal coverage”, there will be construction and refurbishment of seven health facilities countrywide, construction of two new health centres in Kalagie and Janjangbureh, construction of classrooms and student dormitories at the school for state enenrolled nurses in Bansang, construction of staff quarters at the AFPRC general hospital in Farafenni to ensure “full nationwide coverage”.

In addition, there are on-going refurbishment works at several health facilities, including the Edward Francis Small teaching hospital in Banjul, Soma major health centre, among others, “entirely funded by the Gambia government”.

There are also plans to construct a new office complex for the ministry of Health, as well as houses for health care workers nationwide, he further announced.

The provision of vital life-saving equipment is being intensified.

Meanwhile, 14 Gambian-trained doctors have been posted to hospitals and major health centres in the country, and doctors will also be sent to the health centres in Kiang Karantaba, Kuntaur and Yorrobawol.

As regards national security, the “government is committed to a very safe and secure environment in which all persons (in the county) can move freely in pursuit of their lawful business, without let or hindrance."

The prisons service has embarked on rehabilitation projects at the state central prison Mile 2, the construction of new cells at Janjangbureh prison in the central river region, new visitors rooms, tailoring workshop, a library and renovation of the central storage facility in Mile 2 prison.

Plans for the country’s prisons include expansion of Old Jeshwang prison, where the prisons wing for females will be relocated, and more space created at Mile 2.

“The Gambia prison service in its continuous drive to improve prison conditions is working on a comprehensive prison reform agenda for consideration by government.”

The energy sector, according to President Jammeh, “still remains a challenge, despite massive investment in the sector over the past years, with the acquisition of new generators and building of a new power station at Brikama. These investments are dwarfed by the ever increasing request for electricity both for domestic and industrial use.

“Notwithstanding, we shall continue to pursue policies and strategies to expand electricity generation to ensure more reliable and affordable electricity supplies for domestic and industrial use.”

Meanwhile, new power generation and distribution projects include the Western Region electrification project, “which is 85 per cent complete”; the Venezuela Project to install and rehabilitate transformer stations, conductors and distribution panels. “The first phase has been commissioned and is operational.”

There is the rural electrification extension project, to improve power generation and transmission sytems in the rural areas of the country, including the installation of HFO generator sets. As many as 44 new settlements will benefit from this project extension. “The contract has been signed, and site works are in progress to finalize survey design and other logistics.”

The Brikama power project financed by the Gambia government is producing electricity into the network; the IDB-funded Brikama II 20MW power supply project is to increase NAWEC’s power generation capacity from Brikama. “Procurement for the phase 2 is in progress”.

There is also the Energy development and access expansion project, EDAEP. This is a $6 million project supported by the OPEC Fund. It includes the design, review, material procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of a 32 kilometer 33 KV line, feeders and low voltage networks for ten villages namely, Bafuloto, Makumbaya, Kubarikko, Galoya, Kabuneh, Kunkujang Jattaya, Mandinari, Kerewan, Darusalam and Daranka.

“A contract was signed with the Global Trading Group NV and construction material is expected soon. The 33/11 KV sub-station civil works are 70 per cent completed.”

Then there is the 11MW Kotu power plant expansion project, funded by BADEA and the OPEC Fund for a period of 24 months. This project entails design, review, material procurement, construction, installation and commissioning of an 11 MW engine at Kotu power station.

There is, in addition, the Kabada electrification project, which includes the extension of the medium voltage from Soma and the installation of 3x50 KVA transformers for the electrification of four villages namely, Sare Musa, Missino Sano, Bajonki and Sambundu in the Kabada district. “The project works are completed and customers are being assisted to apply for the service.”

The Kaur 60KW solar hybrid system costing $400,000 is a project funded by the Gambia government and GEF-UNIDO. “An invitation for bids was launched,and evaluation of the tender is completed.”

There are also projects to improve water supply in the peri-urban areas namely, the Gunjur rural water supply project and the Kotu ring water supply project.

“Both projects are meant to improve the supply of portable water and the works include the construction of water treatment plants, the elevated tank and distribution piping system, all of which are near completion and preparations for commissioning and handing over are in progress.”

The Gambia government promotes diversification of energy sources. Consequently, the Renewable Energy law was adopted in December 2013. It “provides incentives for both local and foreign investors” in the country’s energy sector.

With support from the ECOWAS centre for renewable energy and Energy Efficiency, the renewable energy national action plan will be developed. It is set achievable renewable energy targets.

The ministry of Energy with UNDP support is currently reviewing the national energy policy and action plan.